There aren’t a lot of houses up in the north east of Iceland. We drive out to a peninsula called the Langernes. Today there are only a few houses out here but the area has been inhabited since the settlement of Iceland a bit over a millennium ago. I guess the hardship of living in such remote conditions has just been too much for the modern man and everybody has left for the restaurants and cafes in Reykjavik.
The road to the peninsula start out fairly good but at a sign it is suddenly deteriorating markedly and the road from this point is classified as a mountain road even though it isn’t going through the mountains but just along the cliffs at the shore. Despite the poor quality of the road people have made it out to this area in their old VW campervans – I guess they can manage if they just drive really carefully and slowly hoping not to break anything. There are only a few people who have made it out here so it isn’t a huge problem the road is only a single track with limited options of driving off the road.
We follow the northern part of the peninsula for a while until we reach a turnoff where follow another track across the peninsula to the southern side of the peninsula. We take the slow drive across the peninsula which fortunately isn’t too far so we soon reach the other side. Here is a small parking lot with a couple of cars which seems to be camping out here for the night. I have no clue where the passengers in the cars are since they are not in sight and there really isn’t much in the way of trees and bushes they can hide behind – they must be out on a bit longer hike of the area.
The area didn’t use to be completely uninhabited. There used to be a small village right here at the edge of the peninsula. Up until the 1920s there was a fairly large population living in the village. According to a census there were 117 people living in the village in 1924 and more during the summer time when people came here to take advantage of the fishing in the area.
The economic depression of the 1930s made it very difficult to export the fish and the fish changed their migration patterns so fewer went pass the old village of Skalar. The population declined quickly and it wasn’t helped by the onset of the Second World War which meant there were minefields in the nearby east fjords. Unfortunately some of the mines got loose from the minefield and drifted to the village of Skalar and blew up a couple of buildings of the village.
Several families left during the war and in 1946 the last family left the village leaving it a ghost town. For a short while the village got new life since a family moved in in 1948 but they left again in 1955 and nobody have lived in the village since. The houses of the village are deteriorating and there are only a few ruins left which we had a quick look at when we wonder around the abandon village.
The village has a stunning location – but I guess it is just too remote for it ever to get new life as an outpost in the far north of Iceland.